Oakland Raiders halfback, Michael Bush, sat down with Drew Deener of 101.7 WKRD/ Sports Talk 790 AM’s “On the Net” radio show on June 30, 2010. Bush had plenty to talk about from his abilities to the Raiders HB competition to Al Davis and Hue Jackson and their methods. He also touched briefly on the subject of the NFL collective bargaining agreement.
Bush was drafted in the fourth round of the 2007 NFL draft with the 100th overall pick of the Oakland Raiders. During his senior year at Louisville, Bush suffered a compound fracture of his femur. (Yikes!) The injury required the insertion of a steel rod and a second operation to facilitate the healing process. Prior to his injury, Bush was expected to compete for the Heisman trophy award with the eventual 7th overall pick in 2007, the Minnesota Vikings Adrian Peterson as a second halfback. However, due to breaking his leg, he missed nearly the entire season and slid all the way to the Raiders in the fourth round of the draft.
“I never heard too much bad stuff about the Raiders until I got there. Still, a lot of us never know what’s going on, we just gotta come together in the locker room and try to stay positive as much as we can and whatever they throw at us we try to make the best of it,” said the third year tailback.
He was out the entire 2007 season while still recuperating from the broken leg on the P.U.P. list. In 2008, still unsure of the status of their potential sleeper HB, the Raiders selected Darren McFadden with the 4th overall pick in the draft. At that time, they were already carrying 1,000 yard rusher Justin Fargas, as well as former Jets back-up, LaMont Jordan. Jordan would be released soon after the draft, however, and for the next two seasons Fargas, McFadden, and Bush would split duties at halfback for the Raiders.
This year, with the release of Justin Fargas, the backfield has officially been turned over to the back-to-back rookie selections. “It’s just me and McFadden,” Michael Bush said. “Coach tells us it’s an open competition and we show up each day and push each other. But at the same time, we know we’re trying to take each other’s spot. I think the league is changing; one guy can’t take all the pounding. McFadden is not as big as I am, we got different skills and stuff like that, so I think we will switch it up, you know one, two punch.”
Bush continued on to talk about his transition from college to pros, suggesting that it isn’t that difficult of a switch at his position, “Once the ball is snapped they are all trying to take your head off, so you just go back to the way you played when you were a kid. I just get my pads down and push through guys; short yardage, goal line, I’ll take all of it.”
Following the upcoming season, Bush will be a Restricted Free Agent. So you know he is going to go out and put it all on the line this year. There are already other teams showing mild interest in his services and it has been rumored (though never confirmed) that the Raiders shopped him prior to and during the 2009 NFL draft. Bush will be looking to make an impression to his current team as well as other potential suitors who might help jack up the bargaining price for him in 2011.
But there is the little issue of the CBA hanging over the heads of the 2011 class of NFL free agents. Bush was asked if the players are concerned about a lockout.
“Oh yeah, guys are concerned. They know they gotta start saving their money, so they should be concerned.”
You can read more about the potential lockout here.
Bush went on to speak of his first season playing as a Raider, “We tried [the wildcat] in my second year, but I think one of my coaches got word from somebody that, um, they didn’t like it.” Don’t have to guess too hard at who that “somebody” is.
“Every Thursday, Mr. Davis comes out and watches practice,” said Bush. “If you want to talk to him, you can easily just walk past the cart and he’ll grab you and talk to you. A lot of new guys come in and talk to him just to pick his brain about how much he knows about you and he went all the way back to my high school days, so he is very bright.”
Now, I’m not sure why Davis doesn’t like the wildcat if he is so very bright. Bush has already shown a knack for throwing passes out of the backfield. As a senior quarterback at Louisville Male High School, Bush led his team to a state championship game in Kentucky’s highest class. Bush threw for 468 yards and six touchdowns and ran for 116 yards and another touchdown in a 59-56 loss to future Louisville Cardinals teammate Brian Brohm’s Trinity Shamrocks. Bush went to Louisville thinking he was going to compete at QB, but he ended up being a phenomenal HB instead.
In 36 college games, Bush ran for an average of 5.8 yards per carry, totaled 2,508 yards rushing, and scored 39 times. As a Raiders’ halfback, he has averaged 134.8 all-purpose yards per game when he is given more than 15 touches in a game. However, for some reason, that has only happened five times in 31 possible games.
“When I first got to the Raiders, there was a guy named Zach Crockett, HB/FB…whatever, and he kept his body in shape and was always stressing eating right and even your coaches now a days will tell you ‘If you stay at this weight, or you eat right and take care of your body, you can do this’ so you take knowledge from every guy that you run into,” Bush says with regards to his early success in the league.
Personally, I really liked Zach Crockett. While he might not be one of the Raiders’ greatest fullbacks ever, certainly many fans know who he is. He made a name for himself being a bull of a blocker. He led the team in rushing touchdowns in 2001(6) and 2003(8) and had 14 more combined touchdowns in 2000 and 2004. He also added 58 career catches as a Raider.
Bush continued on to say, “Every day you come into the meeting rooms and guys are like, ‘we’re this close’ and I’m tired of being close, we need to make it happen. But everything is looking up this year, to me, I think we are about four or five steps ahead of where we were last year and I think we could be contenders this year.”
He spoke of the change supplied by new offensive coordinator, Hue Jackson, “He’s like a run first/pass later. He’s a high energy guy, in your face, there is no walking to the line; there is no walking around. When I first started, everything was laid back, but now it’s like, ‘Let’s go, we gotta get it.'”
Then he got to talking about the fans. Bush stated that he thinks Broncos and Chargers fans are the worst (I agree). And he talked about his admiration for the Raider Nation, “When we drive through, [Raider Nation] is kind of up on the side and they got their jerseys and their cameras, they are dressed up, you see them taking pictures, they’re like seven feet tall…it’s fun, it’s fun.
“Then when you come out, you see the whole Black Hole and they’re just going crazy. The Darth Raider, the big spikes on the shoulder pads, it’s a very fun atmosphere to play in front of. Jumping in the Black Hole is probably the biggest celebration I’ve ever done. Sometimes, you jump in there and you don’t know if they’re gonna let you go.”
Overall it was a good talk. You can check out the entire interview here.
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